Bill Nash

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Bill Nash

William (Bill) Nash (Born, 1948 - Died, 2021), better known as Bill Nash, was a defense solicitor who represented high-profile cases, including journalist Crispin Aubrey, and the MAP activists Tom O'Carroll and Roger Moody.

Born in Wales, orphaned in his teens, Bill took a law degree at Oxford, and went on to qualify as a solicitor in the 1970s. After training with pioneer human rights lawyer Ben Birnberg he was appointed legal officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties.[1]

MAP activist Tom O'Carroll wrote in an obituary for Nash:

Bill Nash, who was my defence solicitor for decades thanks to my numerous brushes with the law, died in December following a short illness. He loved his work, never retired, and remained in practice for almost 50 years.

He had become a friend as well as an advisor. The last time we met was for an evening in highly heretical company at the National Theatre, where we went with several of my friends to see Downstate, a play about four men convicted of sex offenders against minors. Surprisingly, given the topic, there is plenty of humour in the dialogue, as there was in the dinner we enjoyed together afterwards.

Back in the period 1978-81, from the arrest of PIE committee members, including myself, to our trial at the Old Bailey, the many hours Bill and I spent on the case were often followed by ending up at the pub together. At one especially busy period, office hours were not enough and at the weekend we pored over the paperwork at his north London home, where I met his wife and family. It did not seem to bother him in the least that his young daughter might be tainted by my presence or disturbed by evidence in the case that was spread out on the living room table – including photocopies provided to us by the prosecution showing photos from magazines with titles like Lolita and Golden Boys. [...]

At his funeral in January, which I attended, fellow NCCL lawyer Hilary Kitchin gave a eulogy in which she spoke about some of Bill’s most high-profile legal successes, such as his role in bringing an end to birching in the Isle of Man.

Another big trial of his, at the start of the 1970s, was the Mangrove incitement-to-riot case at the Old Bailey, when nine protesters against police racism were acquitted. A film about this famous victory, Mangrove, directed by Steve McQueen, came out in 2020. The case arose from police raids on the Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill, a fashionable place with Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Christine Keeler and John Profumo among its patrons. Yet another big one was the ABC case, a name invented by Bill that caught on in the media. This was R v Aubrey, Berry and Campbell, tried under the Official Secrets Act over these three men’s civil-liberties inspired scrutiny of government-authorised wiretapping and their work to limit CIA operations in Britain. [...]

Bill was a man I will remember with much fondness and gratitude. It was great to discover at his funeral and wake how widely my sentiments were echoed.[2]